It is almost impossible to make something that will stand out in a horror fan’s mind among the sea of films out in the wild. We have seen it all and quite frankly, nothing seems original anymore. That is why when a film that delivers something fresh and exciting finally comes around, it is something to cherish and to share with every other fan that you know. That is what I want to do with Tyler Shields’ Final Girl.
At the tender age of six, Veronica’s (Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine, Maggie) parents are murdered. She is taken under the wing of William (Wes Bentley, P2, American Horror Story), a man who is prepared to train her to exact revenge on the sick people who go around hurting others. After years of honing her skills, her first solo mission is assigned — take out a group of young boys who are hunting and killing beautiful young women for sport.
With a title like Final Girl, you would expect a film that would kind of be like every other horror movie ever made, right? In theory, every female survivor of a horror movie is considered a ‘final girl.’ Deciding to make this his film’s title was a bold move by first time director Tyler Shields because he would have to work that much harder to make his film stand out from the crowd. Let me tell you, he has done just that. This film is really like none I’ve ever seen before. Everything was meticulously thought out, from the casting to the script to the cinematography, and it all works together quite perfectly.
From start to finish, the entire cast of Final Girl is brilliant. Abigail Breslin was the perfect choice to play the innocent but deadly Veronica. She has the right look to lure the boys in, never to expect what she is really capable of. I have seen a lot of Wes Bentley lately, in the hit FX television show, American Horror Story, and my recent review of Amnesiac. I was an instant fan of Bentley upon my first viewing of P2 years ago, so I am always curious to see him pop up in new roles. He was a great choice for William, Veronica’s mentor, as the two on screen are wonderful together.
While Breslin and Bentley’s characters were arguably the main focus of the film, there is certainly a lot to be said about the group of young killers we are introduced to. The character development for each role is astounding. The fact that Shields and his team of writers were able to create such distinctive personalities for this group is a rarity not seen in film very much these days. That brilliance coupled with the fact that Logan Huffman, Cameron Bright, Alexander Ludwig, and Reece Thompson are all amazingly talented made for one hell of a film. Each performer was able to stand out as an individual with their own personality traits made apparent rather early on in getting to know them. Thompson’s character, Nelson, was the mama’s boy, Bright’s Shane was the sensitive one, Huffman was the most ‘out there’ as Danny, and Ludwig’s Jameson was the leader of the pack.
Each of the actors mentioned above did an outstanding job creating their characters, but I want to point out the amazing performance of Logan Huffman. His character, Danny, was clearly the most unstable of the bunch; He carries an axe and gets the most excited out of all the boys for their ritualistic hunting trips. This guy plays the perfect psycho — he is charismatic and creepy as hell all at the same time. If there were to ever be a stand-alone film about the Joker from Batman lore, Huffman would be the perfect choice.
Acting and storyline aside, Final Girl‘s true standout quality is its aesthetics. This film is the most beautiful horror movie I’ve ever watched. It is truly a piece of art. Tyler Shields, known as strictly a still photographer, took all of his techniques and expertise and applied the exact same formula to his first film, and the results are astounding. His use of lighting and shadows is unmatched, in essence virtually creating another character for the film’s cast. On top of that, the use of colors and contrast and the outfits chosen for each character further project this film above and beyond anything else out there today. Shields was clearly born to make films and I cannot wait to see what he churns out next.
If you are looking for something fresh and exciting among all of the movies coming out around this time of year, you don’t have to look any further than Final Girl. It is a gorgeous film with tons of great things going for it. Be sure to pick up a copy on DVD or Blu-ray, available now from Cinedigm.
I give this film 5 black suits out of 5.